Delay of game

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Manny De Los Santos

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Andrew Linnabary

Wichita State released a report in July detailing the costs and elements involved in bringing back a football program.

Since then, there have been minimal updates on the situation.

University President John Bardo explained the project is still in “phase one.” There are too many questions still in the air, particularly financially, to make any decisions about whether or not to go forward with the project, he said.

The earliest for any actual implementation, Bardo said, would be July 2017.

“In the middle of all this, we have the Big 12 talking about expansion, so that’s kind of going to throw everything into a cocked hat,” Bardo said.

Bardo said his initial reaction to the feasibility report was the projected cost was less than he expected, but more than “what I had at hand.”

“I was hearing numbers like 50 or 60 million (dollars),” Bardo said. “They’re not there. If you were to play at the Conference USA level, seven to eight million a year would be kind of more normal. If you were to play at the American level, 13 to 15 million. You’re not talking about Ohio State with a 70, 80 or 100 million budget.”

After the summer’s football study, feedback from the community was requested.

Bardo said he has heard “that’s too much money,” “you should do it tomorrow” and everything in between.

As for why Bardo has suddenly taken to bringing back football, Bardo said it’s because he now knows the direction of the university. The only big thing that hasn’t been addressed, Bardo said, is athletics.

For those who argue football talk is just to distract from other campus issues, Bardo said that’s not the case.

“Everything detracts from everything, and everything adds to everything,” Bardo said. “The bottom line is football’s part of Kansas culture. I don’t know what it would detract from that would be meaningful.”

One of the big questions surrounding football is the stadium.

Bardo said if WSU is going to take this on without outside help, Cessna Stadium is the only option.

Cessna StadiumManny De Los Santos

“A full new stadium would be way over any price range, and Cessna’s structurally sound,” Bardo said. “It would take a lot of renovation to meet ADA and other standards, but Cessna would be our place if we do it ourselves. On the other hand, I’m not sure what all’s going to happen outside of us.”

As for the practice facility, Bardo said Cessna would work for outside practice, and said the projected indoor practice facility would be at Fairmount Towers.

“Fairmount Towers doesn’t have a lot of life left in it, so we’re looking over the next few years, whether we do football or we don’t, what we replace Fairmount Towers with,” Bardo said.

Another unanswered question is whether it’s Football Bowl Subdivision or broke.

Bardo said that’s not the case.

“I’m open to (Football Championship Subdivision),” Bardo said.

Still, Bardo said he doesn’t think FCS does as much for the community as FBS.

“It will do a lot for the student community but it won’t spread a lot beyond the student community,” Bardo said. “So my preference would still be to do it at FBS if we do it at all, but I’m open to FCS if that’s the right answer.”

Another concern of the community is student fees. Bardo said, “It’ll definitely go up, there’s no question,” but said it will only happen if students are willing to pay for it.

“We’re not just going to impose a fee,” Bardo said.

Freshman retention at WSU is the lowest of any public Kansas university. Bardo said football would have a positive impact.

“It gives a weekend of activities,” Bardo said. “A lot of this stuff starts Friday nights. You may have concerts around it, you may have a lot of other activities, you bring back alums. So it’s got an entirely different flavor than it did in the 80s.

“And can that affect the students’ feelings about the campus? Yeah, it can.”

While he is excited about the prospect of Shocker football, Bardo reiterated there are no definite answers yet.

“The big key message is we’re nowhere near ready to make a message,” Bardo said. “I just feel like the unknowns are so great that there isn’t a reason for us to rush.

“There are a lot of issues we don’t have the answer to yet.”